HARARE Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has launched an intelligence academy named after him, saying it would produce officers able to counter growing threats from Western powers, state media reported on Friday.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is fighting isolation from the West, which accuses him of human rights abuses and rigging elections and economic mismanagement.
The combative 83-year-old veteran leader says he is being punished for seizing white-owned farms for landless blacks to redress colonial imbalances, a program critics say has plunged the economy into crisis.
"With the current unjustified demonization of Zimbabwe by Western powers, the role of intelligence in shaping foreign, security and economic policies become even more critical," the Herald newspaper quoted the president as saying at the launch of the Robert Mugabe National School of Intelligence near Harare.
Critics say Mugabe has increasingly relied on security forces to keep opponents in check in the face of growing anger over the unraveling economy, but he denies the charge.
The intelligence academy is also expected to train members of the army, police and operatives from other southern African countries.
Mugabe said Britain and the United States continued to try to destabilize Zimbabwe by working with "non-state actors" aimed at unseating his government.
"The important role of defending our country cannot be left to mediocre officers incapable of comprehending and analytically evaluating the operational environment to ensure that the sovereignty of our state is not only preserved, but enhanced," Mugabe said.